People network all the time: getting advice in online forums, communicating with friends in chats, and sharing information that they find relevant on social networks. At the same time, companies still find networking a hard nut to crack. It’s a shame, because everything they need on the path to become networked organizations is clearly already there: people who know how to network (even if they would not call it that in a private context) and who like to do it – but only if doing so makes sense to them. So, what can companies do to initiate the internal exchange urgently needed to produce innovative solutions?
Companies face the challenge of transforming themselves from rigid structures operating under “business as usual” into agile networked organizations where information and knowledge flow and new ideas mature. And not because “new work” and “agile work” are currently in vogue. But because it is simply vital for their survival. But how can that succeed? Tearing down office walls and putting all employees in an open space, hoping that they will start talking to each other, will not do it. Not alone. Indeed, it is precisely in the classic corporate context that many people have learned over many years to stake out their own area of competence and seal it off. Or, to build on what was said at the beginning: they see no sense in networking. Not yet. But this is exactly where companies can and should start.
Networking means acting in a needs-oriented way
The things that guide us automatically in our private social environments must be triggered in a corporate context. People contact others to satisfy certain needs; whether to get a recommendation for a product, a tip for stain removal, to share beautiful moments or receive validation from others, you name it.
We don’t give up our needs at the office door – they are always there. What companies have to do is create structures in which employees have the opportunity to be needs-oriented at the work level and to make targeted contact with the people who help them with their career; for example, with
- role models who inspire them
- mentors from whom they learn or
- colleagues who assist them in solving business-related tasks.
But how do you start? How do you put theory into practice? How can a company make employees aware of the importance of networking if there are neither empirical values nor best practices from their own environment?
Through automated matching, for example.
Automatically create human success stories
There are smart software solutions that bring together exactly those people in a company who can support each other in specific situations, development phases or projects. An algorithm identifies potential mentoring tandems, the best team constellations for a project, or the right job-rotation partner – again: you name it.
The focus on needs works in two directions: On the one hand, employees find exactly the colleagues they need right now to move forward. On the other, their needs continue to evolve, depending on who they surround themselves with. You could also say that companies that match (automatically) promote the personal development of every single person in the company by creating the ideal conditions to inspire each other again and again.
Human connections are THE success factor
For companies, it is particularly exciting to keep an eye on who networks with whom and what constellations lead to the best ideas and results. Keywords: People Analytics. Studies have shown that it’s less the attributes and CVs of employees (“Attribute Analytics”) that allow reliable predictions about performance and development; it’s much more revealing to analyze the interactions of people in the company. The US scientists Paul Leonardi and Noshir Contractor call it “Relational Analytics”: tell me how intensely you’re networked, and I’ll tell you how good you are for certain projects and how well you fit into specific teams. For example, the work of these two scientists has shown that it was not the most formally influential employees (i.e., those with the most contacts or most employees “under” their leadership) who achieved the greatest impact in practice, but rather the employees who had the strongest connections to others.
How-to: Getting Started on the Way to a Networked Organization
- Introduce automated matching: The software makes it easy to organize mentoring duos, lunch dates, job sharing, project work, and more – all bottom up!
- Make success stories visible: People love stories about other people – also in the context of a company. Tell stories about the teams that have successfully networked – a blog, the intranet or a success board in the office are potential channels.
- Promoting diversity: The more diverse the workforce, the more fruitful the exchange. “Attribute Analytics” and “Relational Analytics” go hand in hand.
- Dissolve silos, strengthen the community mindset: Open structures, changing responsibilities and dynamic hierarchies promote exchange.
- Use data: Those who use digital matching get an insight into the professional needs of employees, can respond to them with appropriate offers, and thus take networking in the company to a new level.
You name it – we match it: with Tandemploy SaaS, we provide you with a tool that brings your employees together on a needs-based and goal-oriented basis – for projects, mentoring, co-leadership, job-sharing duos and much more. Take a look at the web demo here.